Someone asked me this week an intriguing question: “How has living and serving on skid row changed you?”
I’ve been doing some introspection this week to answer that question. It dawned on me that it’s been six months since I transitioned to this new ministry and neighborhood. In a sentence I’d have to say that God has been transforming me through this ministry for a number of years and the process is speeding up now.
I’ve made a few Top Ten Lists in my day so why stop now.
Here are the top ten things I have been learning from Living on Skid Row…
I don’t have as many answers as I used to and that to really understand issues we need people from different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives involved in the conversation.
Be more concerned with being faithful than successful.
Be OK with not sleeping through the night, smelling urine and pot on every street, not being able to go outside in the evening, and not being able to solve every problem.
Success in a discipleship sense is more a journey than a destination, more of a process than an outcome, that the goal is not always maturity but incremental growth, not how far one still has to go but how far one has come.
The value of diversity… being open and accepting of other ways of worshipping and forms of church liturgy.
The city (the urban community) has so many problems it’s a hotbed for valuable ministry.
How to live in and around constant suffering… and having that heavy feeling in your gut that doesn’t go away… and to have faith that feeling that way will make me a more compassionate person… I’m learning the fellowship of suffering.
You get a lot more exercise using the stairs than waiting for the elevator.
There is transformational power of the ministry of friendship with people who are marginalized by society.
Here’s another question I thought I should ponder this week: How has God used you in the past six months in this new ministry? … And here are ten answers…
I started a weekly ministry to connect the local churches with all the guests at the mission. We call it Tuesday Night Live… where local churches host the service and bring their own unique flavor of ministry. It also exposes the churches to the URM and without fail they leave being ministered to themselves.
I started a monthly Staff Chapel to develop a deeper spiritual emphasis to the mission culture.
I meet monthly with the URM Department managers and Leadership Teams to disciple them in Biblical Leadership.
I have become the spiritual advisor to our Women’s Facility Staff in Sylmar called “Hope Gardens” where 225 women and children as well as senior women live.
I have been doing a lot of teaching and preaching at Staff and Discipleship Program chapels, bible classes and chapels at Hope Gardens, and providing devotional times for individual departments within the mission.
I am providing counseling for hurting staff members as well as pre-marital and marital counseling.
I am visiting and preaching at local churches each week representing the mission.
I am visiting pastors and church leaders at their churches as well as giving tours of the mission to expose people to the extensive ministries and transformational results taking place on skid row.
I am overseeing the alumni association to care for those who transition out of the mission.
I am providing funding for many projects that are seriously lacking at the URM through our Deed & Truth non-profit organization. Thanks to all of you who have made generous financial donations to make this possible.
Praise God for what he has been doing. I am humbled to be a part of it. This is still such a bizarre turn of events in my life I can hardly believe I’ve living it. Whenever I get to thinking how this is going to work long-term, I fall back on the fact that I KNOW he chose me for this. It wasn’t my idea. He called me to Skid Row. He gave me a ton of confirmation over a two-year process. Sometimes I wonder why God called me here but I have no doubt he called me to be here, in this specific place, in this season of life. Thank you for your partnership in the gospel with us.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!